How to Collect Real Time Customer Feedback

customer feedback

We live in an age where businesses need to stay on top of trends and make decisions quickly. With swift advances in technology and AI, real time data has become a key contributor to growth for all modern online businesses.

Real time customer feedback enables businesses to ask questions or survey customers immediately after a customer interaction. Websites use various methods to collect this data, including live on-site chats, on-site chat bots, and proactive chat invitations.

Traditional methods of gathering feedback include online surveys, email contact forms, customer reviews, and social media sentiment. While these methods still have value and purpose, real time feedback collection helps resolve issues faster and gives companies greater insight into the customer experience.

A simple example of real-time feedback is asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to a friend or colleague, immediately after purchasing on your website. Apple uses this data collection method by asking users to rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 10. Performed at scale, this simple bit of feedback can provide the company with valuable insight into customer satisfaction.

What is the value of real time customer feedback?

Real time customer feedback is valuable because it helps your business understand the mistakes that lead to customer dissatisfaction. You also get to know the things that your company is doing well, right away. Real time data collection captures customer difficulties as they are experienced, giving your business a chance to appease concerns immediately.

Real time feedback collection is valuable because it is fast and low-friction, and captures customers at a time when they are most ready and willing to provide feedback on their experience with your company. Asking questions right away means a customer will have their experience fresh in their mind, and will be better able to tell you specifically what went wrong or right during their interaction with your business.

Another advantage of real time feedback collection is that it gives you a chance to access what the best-selling marketing theory book Blue Ocean Strategy calls “Tier 1 Non-Customers.”  These “soon-to-be” non-customers are on the edge of your market waiting to jump ship, or are customers who aren’t very engaged with your product.

Using live on-site chat to engage these Tier 1 Non-Customers increases your chance to retain and expand your existing customer base. You can identify the factors keeping customers on the edge of your industry, and take steps to bring that tentative group more securely into the fold. These low-engagement customers aren’t likely to leave reviews or respond to surveys, but a friendly on-site chat invitation while they are already interacting with your business can be just the thing to start a helpful conversation.

Why is real time customer feedback better than alternatives?

customer reviews and feedback

Most traditional methods for collecting customer feedback place a delay between a customer’s experience and the time they are asked to provide feedback. But using on-site live chat and on-site chat bots allows your company to gather feedback while customers interact with your site, product, or service. This is powerful because you immediately see your visitors’ needs and wishes and monitor potential problems such as bugs or missing information in the customer journey.

Using live chat or chat bots also allows customers to resolve their issues immediately. According to Albrecht and Zemke’s book Service America in the New Economy, “of the customers who register a complaint, between 54-70% will buy again if their complaint is resolved. The figure goes up to a staggering 95% if the customer feels the complaint was resolved quickly.”

Real time feedback versus email surveys

When a customer receives a survey email in their mailbox hours or days after they have made a purchase, the odds of getting any response at all is minimal. Much like banner ads, surveys have become something that many customers just automatically ignore. And spam filters often intercept email surveys, leaving them ignored or forgotten in an email junk folder.

According to ICF, survey response rates have been declining for the past 20 years due to non-response bias, credibility, and cost. “Non-response bias” refers to the unintended bias and inaccuracy thrown into your data as higher percentages of surveyed customers don’t respond. Low response rates undermine our ability to judge how valid surveys are and how much we can rely on them, making them less credible. Prices then go up because companies have to work much harder to get enough respondents. They have to send out more questionnaires and sometimes offer incentives just to have enough data to take meaningful action.

Email surveys are an outdated data collection methodology and are often passed over when modern marketing teams consider improving the customer journey. Real time customer feedback requires very little of your customers’ time, and can be collected at the time and place where you are most likely to get quality responses.

Real time feedback versus customer reviews

With online reviews, you only get responses from the kind of people who leave reviews, leading to a biased understanding of your customers. With real time data collection, you receive data on a broader range of customer experiences, where online reviews tend to cluster around the very satisfied and very unsatisfied customers.

Waiting for reviews is also a very passive form of feedback collection. Even when you aggressively prompt customers to leave reviews, you’re still relying on them to take an action on an external website, and in most cases you have no control over what those customer reviews focus on. Negative reviews visible on public forms can harm your brand, whereas negative feedback shared privately gives you a chance to course-correct.

Finally, a negative review often represents an instance where your company is “too late.” If a customer was motivated enough to leave a scathing review of your business online, it’s also very likely that you’ve lost them as a customer forever. If you had interacted with that customer in real time, however, there might have been an opportunity to improve their experience and keep their business.

How do you collect real time customer feedback?

You can collect real time customer feedback in many ways. On-site live chat widgets, automated-site chat bots, and proactive chat invitations are all useful collection methods. When data is collected it can be studied immediately, or you can feed the data into your CRM or central feedback database for future analysis.

Live Chat

On-site live chat gives you the ability to provide your potential customer with a human touch, allowing them to ask for clarification around a product or service. Live chat agents might also have a set of feedback questions they ask, along with organic follow-up questions. The right live chat app can be installed on your existing website to let your team talk with your visitors via live chat agents.

Live chat agents can gather conversational feedback, asking for clarification and follow-up information in ways that static surveys just can’t. They can encourage customers to share thoughts that would be difficult to capture with survey prompts, and customers will appreciate interacting with a human as they share feedback, since that shows that you value your customers’ time.

Businesses often look to live chat in order to offer better customer service or generate sales, but too often overlook it as a tool to gather customer feedback in real time. If there are complaints or negative feedback, you can take steps to fix problems in real time rather than letting them linger and grow into larger problems. And that valuable feedback can be gathered and analyzed to guide business decisions going forward.

How to Add a Live Chat Plugin or App to Your Site

Chat bots

A chat bot provides automated responses to user input via a chat interface. Using pre-written responses, machine learning, and the power of AI, chat bots can enhance the functionality of almost any website. They are also fantastic tools for collecting feedback at scale for a low cost, and can be deployed anywhere on your website in order to assist and interact with customers.

Chat bots can be programmed with a series of feedback-collecting questions, saving responses in a CRM for future analysis. A post-purchase chat bot that pops up and asks customers questions about their experience can be one of the most cost- and time-efficient ways possible to collect customer feedback.

One way in which we at Formilla uformilla-feedback-cancelse chat bots to gather feedback comes up when people ask to cancel their accounts when interacting with our bots. In that case, the chat bots respond by helping the customer with their request, while also asking them to share any issues they may have been having with their experience. This helps us identify the primary reasons behind customers canceling their accounts, which in turn helps us reduce pain points and churn in the future.

Proactive Chat

Businesses use proactive chat to invite or entice a visitor on their website to start chatting. This is a chat action initiated by you, rather than waiting for the visitor to start a chat themselves. If you aren’t getting much interaction with your live chat widgets and need to collect more real time feedback, try using proactive invitations  to start feedback conversations.

Proactive chat invitations can either be initiated manually are automated. Automated invitations can be set up at key points in the customer journey, such as when a visitor first arrives on the site, if they spend a lengthy amount of time on a single page, and immediately post-purchase.

We’re all used to “proactive chat” in physical retail experiences, as store staff will often ask some variation of the question “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” That friendly check-in provides valuable insight for brick and mortar businesses, and proactive chat invitations can serve the same function for online companies.

Proactive Chat: What is it, and When Should You Use it?

A final note about real time customer feedback

If you aren’t talking to your website visitors via live chat and other real time customer feedback tools, you’re missing out on valuable insights. Instead of guessing what your customers might be thinking or making assumptions about them, you should just ask them. Live chats, on-site chat bots, and proactive chat invitations are the best ways to engage with your customers in real time.

With powerful real time data, you can create an environment that makes every customer’s experience positive and productive. And if you can satisfy your users, they will spread the word among their friends and family.

To get started using live chat and chat bots on your site to collect real time customer feedback, sign up for a free trial of Formilla.

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